top of page
  • Everson Law Firm

Understanding the Key Differences Between Burglary and Robbery Charges in Wisconsin

burglary and robbery charges

Understanding the nuances of criminal charges can be crucial for anyone involved in or interested in legal matters. Two terms often confused are burglary and robbery. While you might think these charges are essentially the same offense—taking another person's property—they have distinct differences in their definitions and legal implications under Wisconsin law. Let's delve into these differences to demystify these charges.

Burglary: Entry with Intent

In Wisconsin, burglary is defined under Wisconsin Statutes Section 943.10. Burglary occurs when a person intentionally enters a building, dwelling, or an enclosed space without the owner’s consent and with intent to commit a felony or steal. Entry into a place during the time when it is open to the general public (e.g., entering a business while it’s open) counts as consent and is therefore ineligible to be burglarized. 

It's important to note that committing theft or a different felony is not required for a burglary charge. Simply entering the place without the owner's consent and with criminal intent can suffice to prove burglary. 

Elements of Burglary

To overcome the burden of proof and be convicted of burglary in Wisconsin, the following must be proven:

  1. Unauthorized Entry: The person must have entered a structure without permission.

  2. Intent to Commit a Crime: The intent to commit a felony or theft must be present at the time of entry.

Examples of Burglary

  1. Breaking into a home to steal jewelry.

  2. Entering a closed store after hours with plans to stalk someone.

  3. Breaking into a business with the intent to take items, not finding anything, and leaving empty-handed.

Robbery: Taking Property by Force

Robbery, under Wisconsin Statutes Section 943.32, involves taking property from another person by force or threat of force with the intent to deprive them of that property permanently. Unlike burglary, robbery directly involves a victim who is threatened or physically harmed during the crime.

Elements of Robbery

  1. Taking of Property: The perpetrator must take property from the possession of another.

  2. Use or Threat of Force: The act must involve force or the threat of force to obtain the property.

  3. Intent to Permanently Deprive: The intent must be to remove the property from the owner permanently.

Examples of Robbery

  1. Mugging someone on the street and stealing their wallet.

  2. Holding up a convenience store at gunpoint to take money from the register.

Key Differences Between Burglary and Robbery

Presence of a Victim: One of the most significant differences is the presence of a victim. In burglary, the crime often occurs without the victim present, whereas robbery always involves a direct confrontation with the victim. 

Use of Force: Burglary does not require the use of force, while robbery is characterized by the use of force, or at least the threat of a use of force, to obtain property.

Location of the Crime: Burglary involves unlawful entry into a structure, such as a home or business, whereas robbery can occur anywhere the perpetrator and victim meet, such as on a street or in a store.

Penalties and Consequences

Burglary Penalties: In Wisconsin, burglary is a Class F felony, which can result in a prison sentence of up to 12 years and six months and fines of up to $25,000. The severity can increase if the burglary involved a dangerous weapon or if the building was occupied at the time.

Robbery Penalties: Robbery is considered a Class E felony in Wisconsin, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $50,000. If a dangerous weapon was used, it can elevate the charge to armed robbery, a Class C felony, which carries more severe penalties.

Learn more about Wisconsin felony court procedures and what you can expect if you’ve been charged with a felony in our previous blog post: Navigating Wisconsin Felony Court Procedure.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Navigating the legal landscape of burglary and robbery charges requires expert legal representation. A conviction can have life-altering consequences, making it essential to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who can build a robust defense.

Learn more about what to know going into a meeting with an attorney for a criminal defense consultation in our previous blog post: What to Prepare for a Criminal Defense Attorney Consultation.

At The Everson Law Firm, we specialize in criminal defense and have protected the rights of Wisconsin residents for decades. When facing burglary or robbery charges, our experienced attorneys provide the legal support you need. Contact The Everson Law Firm today for a consultation, and let us help you navigate these challenging times.


bottom of page